Mabel Simpson – Wooing clients with made in Ghana products

Mabel Simpson – Wooing clients with made in Ghana products

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With my fatherMiss Mabel Maame Ama Simpson, one of the country’s young Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), who has carved a niche for herself in the fashion industry both home and abroad.

She is currently an ideal role model whose courage in business venture, has given hope to the youth across the country, to not just to depend on office work, but to come out of their shells to set up their own businesses.

When The Spectator contacted her in her office in Accra, she said that after Senior High School, she had to, at some point in time, grill and sell khebab, as a way of saving some money, while awaiting admission to the university.

Born on 19th May, 1984, Mabel hails from Apam in the Central Region. Her father, Mr. Emmanuel Martey Simpson, was a retired Civil Servant who worked with Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and doubled as a former sports commentator and analyst.

Team member at workShe is the last and only girl of two other siblings. She explained that although growing up was not on a bed of roses, her father strived harder to ensure that she and her siblings were enrolled in good schools.

She had her primary education at Ridge Church School and followed it up to Wesley Girls’ High School to study Visual Arts. From there, she attended Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and undertook a course in Communication Design, but majored in graphic design. She graduated with a Second Class Upper in BA Communication Design in 2008.

She had her national service as a teaching assistant at the Communication Design Department of the College of Art at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

For someone who initially had plans of being in an advertising field, she said the idea of venturing into the fashion industry, started during her national service days when she noticed that most of the ideas in writing was fashion and events related.

She explained that in 2010, whilst working for a marketing communication company in Accra, an idea popped up to finally start up her own brand.

“It was a tough decision, because here, I was working with someone whom I looked up to, Mr. Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah, a mentor and a friend. Initially he refused my resignation. I remember him crumpling the paper and throwing it in the bin. But a month later, I put in a new one, he had no option than to allow me to leave,” she said.

customized ladies pursesShe said that the toughest part was convincing her father that she needed to abandon her ‘paying job’ to start up her own business with little or no funds.

Moved by her passion to induce made in Ghana wears in the fashionable way, she defied all odds and financial challenges that came with venturing into a new area.

“It wasn’t about the money. My first job after school was paying me GH¢400, I moved on to a job that was more demanding and stressful and was being paid GH¢150. My next job was paying GH¢300. But when you are passionate about what you are doing, you never focus on money. I consider all my jobs as learning curves,” she said.

At age 25, she started MSimps with an initial amount of GH¢200 and a sewing machine she had borrowed from her grandmother.

Mabel, whose hard work won her recognition by President John Dramani Mahama in a Youth Enterprise Support Fund speech last year, said, her undying need to create innovative and quality Made in Ghana products to bring prestige and honour to the creative industry, had been her source of strength.

She said her company, MSimps, is a Fashion and Design house which specializes in hand made accessories which include leather handbags, clutch purses, slippers, loafers, iPad cases, travel luggage, laptop bag, cheque book holders etc with emphasis.

Five years down the lane, her fashion shop has showed tremendous improvement as her products have been designed to meet international standards and currently rests on the shelves of some selected shops outside the country.

“We have suppliers in USA, Australia, Canada and South Africa who purchase and retail our products in their respective countries and most sales are also made on social platform from other countries”, she said.

Apart from receiving international recognition on topics relating to young entrepreneurship skills from CNN and BCC, she won the Accessory Brand of the Year 2013 at the Glitz Africa Fashion Week and Best Handbag and Purse Product of the Year 2013 at 1st Ghana Made Products Awards.

She also won second runner up position at UT/Enablis Business Plan Launch Pad Competition 2012 and was one of the ten finalists at Joy Fm My Business 2011.

She has developed means of promoting the country’s rich culture through the use of local prints from reputable brands such as Woodin, GTP, ATL and Da Viva for her accessories.

She has taken African fashion a step further on the international platform through catwalk shows in places like London and New York, to be witnessed by several fashion experts worldwide.

However, just like every work hazards, being a young female CEO comes with its own challenges which include sexual advancement from men. “Some men would rather ask you offer your body to them in exchange for expert advice or help. It is difficult for a lot of men to take instructions from female so in my day to day encounters with my team members, associates and suppliers. Most often, you are expected not to demand results and answers,” she said.

She initially faced challenges in the area of contract awarding, since some people are of the view that young women may not deliver the required results in certain business circles.

Speaking on the spate of unemployed youth, she said “I believe the youth of today concentrate too much on white collar jobs when they can await employment from companies. People don’t want to take risks, but life itself is a risk. Being alive is a risk. We all have in built talents that we can utilize. The few who venture, fail to re-invest but lavish the profit on themselves,” she said

MSimps has a history of youth training and as part of its future aspirations, plans to set up a lifestyle shop and to establish a modern entrepreneurial training facility, which will equip people with skills and knowledge.

“This is a way of empowering more people to look in the area of Creative Arts as a profession,” she said.

Mabel, a Christian worships at the St. Augustine Anglican Church located at Dansoman. She is single and loves to read, watch movies and play football. In her free time, she loves to travel and explore historical and beautiful sites of interest.

Her favourite dish is Ga kenkey with shrimps or fried fish and freshly grounded pepper and enjoys hanging out at beaches.

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